Tuesday, August 18, 2020

It's Tricky

I have taken time off this week to well simply take time to reflect on again my health and well being. After last week's adventure to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden meaning a train, a subway, a walk in the heat and around the infamous Crown Heights area of Brooklyn that at times wandering made me feel as if I was in an episode of Unorthodox. My companion was a lovely young Black man whose Birthday was that same day and I asked if he would like to join me and have a meal after as it was a way for me to have a piece of normal and do something for someone else who also needed it.  He has his own family troubles, with a brother who is Paranoid Schizophrenic, whom he is confined with, along with a Mother with whom he has a fractured if not damaged relationship.  He was Ethan 2.0 without the religious intensity and confused sexuality. (That applies in part to the Brother)  That said I realized then when he said a man cleaning windows was staring at us while drinking coffee standing by the door to shelter from rain was an issue to him.  Sorry folks but this kind of paranoia I can assign to race and gender as we must more than most take notice but this man washing windows was black, it was daylight, it was in a public space and why the fuck would you care? So at one point you can only care so much and take on so much and I chose to not take on more.   But our walk through the area where he lived brought about a discussion on the Crown Heights conflict in the 80s and that still despite it all exists throughout the borough, be it there or Williamsburg or here in Greenville when a Black man with religious tropes destroyed a Jewish bodega.   It is a conflict that is complex and loaded, gun or not.

 During that day, I was asked if my loathing of all extreme Religions makes me Anti Semitic?  I had to ask myself that as well. And yes it does, but it is about that sect of Jewish Orthodox faith as I do with regards to Fundamentalism, and Wahabbiaism that are the most extreme sects of their respective faiths - Christian and Muslim - that go out of their way to find the most oppressive damaging portions of their religious dogma to bring pain to the world and to others under the guise of religious zealotry. Regular mainstream faith I find boring, tragic and well necessary for some so have at Evangelicals, Conservative Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and the rest. So at some point I am "ist" in whatever definition is the accepted one. I have read Kendi Ibrahm's book and while I don't agree with all of it, I accepted and understood his points and his perspective which gave me a pause and check and why I sat out the last civil protests as I knew I had to work on my own internal debates that had little to do with the basic theme, which is recognizing and respecting Black lives under the hands of the Police. A fact that I had known, read about, done my homework on for quite some time, was well familiar with the abuse at the hands of the criminal justice system.  It is largely abusive, money based and utterly well defined and funded by outside interests.  It splits among race when the opportunity allows it, so in white cities like Portland and Seattle, you see how it affects that population as well that is what they have.  Whenever that laser light shines on you, you are fucked.  What happens is that with Black folks they add firepower to the force of that light.  That is racism but that is also culture embedded into the training and logic of the Police. Just ask these Black Officers who killed a black man.   And I want to point out that this is Mississippi, the South. Statues you say? That is one of 99 other problems in that part of the country.

What I find disturbing is that other than defunding the Police I am not sure anyone is willing to do the heavy lifting and personal engagement beyond marching in a crowd to accomplish the rest of the goals needed to make the equally secular institutions less divisive, segregated and accessible to all. I tried and it brought me here to the base of the Statue of Liberty who welcomes all regardless. I wish I could be so open, I tried.

Religion really bothers me. I had never thought about it, however, until I moved to Nashville. I had thought of my Atheism as a choice, like being a vegan, and the same for being religious. You are born into that faith and you can later choose to remain and believe or not.  I still believe that but that is not what anyone there believes.  They are hypocrites and obsessive over their alliance and memberships to their respective Churches, they have no ability to offer anything other than an invite to Church as I had never had anyone there ever do otherwise.  It was like a pre-screening tool to see if you are worthy.  I went a few times and some on my own to try to understand the hold and I realized this was what Lady Gaga sang about when you said you are born that way.  Just different.    I have little more to say that the use of the Bible from everything as a photo prop, to a legal scribe, to a book of sayings and beliefs that fostered the original civil rights movement shows how one book serves many hands and has many purposes. And this last week shows how we stamped out a part of a country with a nuclear bomb under the guise or belief of establishing superiority over a country that in turn has now allowed us to use the same principle to bully, intimidate and coerce countries to believe in a Democratic principle that we in the United States don't even fully believe in. We don't vote, we don't participate in civil rights, we don't elect and debate those who don't agree with us, we threaten, we kill, we bully and we run and hide when the shit hit the fans. We are not well educated, we use tropes to excuse or explain our history but we are as divided as we ever were in any Civil War with the divisions between us inspired if not encouraged by a form of media, ironically called social media, and told to separate physically under the same mandate. Funny how that works out.

This week also marks the week Women finally were enabled to change the laws and given their rights to vote.  The same vote that few actually do. Funny women were shoved tubes down their throats, I suspect sexually abused when imprisoned and of course accosted and threatened as they made their way across the country to earn that already given right.  A road that would later be traveled to secure the same for those who were black as they too had to restore a right that again was already established but once again thanks to the status quo - aka white men - who were afraid they would be meaningless.  Just like the Bible they create stories, laws and methods to intimidate and eliminate any contention to the truth.  Nowhere did I see that more openly in Nashville.

This week the State of Tennessee has passed a law in direct defiance of the Constitution both of the State and of the Country to stop peaceful protests.  There will be no occupy in the Volunteer State. Another irony on top of the contradiction that defines the South.  The embracing Christianity and the bullshit that is about saving souls, building community and oppressing souls and legitimizing slavery, abusing women, children, rape and murder.  That book sounds great, I must get a copy! Oh wait it is embedded into almost every law and redundant law, order and other covenant that define how cities manage, house and educate their residents.  Gotta a law for that? Yes several just with more complex punishments which means stronger penalties and fees that should stop anyone from ever doing anything that upsets anyone anywhere ever again.  That has worked out well clearly.

Tennessee was the state where without that support women may not have the vote and they honor and celebrate that as they should.  I do want to point out that the Suffragette movement had crossed into the issues facing Black citizens and worked with prominent Black leaders to also include them but it became a choice as it was nearly impossible to do both given the times and so they dumped them.  That is what life is like and well I was not there and cannot say if that was the right thing but the first thing is then you use that vote to get those elected to move forward with that concept, and well that took awhile but it was not the Suffrage Movement who enabled that, and the same with Gay Rights when it came down to it when debating the ERA.  And again we saw that with Equal Opportunity and other laws presented before the Supreme Court, we run it down the middle and whatever sticks goes but again even in marginalized groups we segregate, divide and create an agenda that is about a smaller sect, like Religion right down to costumes and signage.

That is Tennessee, the state who enabled the right of women to vote, thanks to civil disobediance, to protest and to activism.  Well only in Tennessee it was a Southern Mama, not surprising given what I know of the role of the Mother in the family dynamic. Which may explain the Domestic Violence problem there, as well no one is ever as good as mother.   Ah the Southern conundrum beats loud.  The same State that has now made that illegal and when prosecuted for said crime lose the right to vote.  And the same State that has the lowest voter turnout in the United States along with all the other Southern States that align the bottom Top 10.  And like many of their Southern neighbors have passed numerous laws that are under the veil of voter suppression, from who and how one can register, the inability to vote via absentee ballot and of course the overall bullshit that defines many issues that have plagued the region for decades still continues without challenge by those who now have taken to streets. Really you did not notice this, know of this or care about this?

 Go figure.  Oh wait, they are also in the bottom 10 when it comes to educational achievement.  As it the rest of the South.  See the parallels? I see the same conundrums that ruled while I lived there.  Here I just see idiots and not working through it. They elect the same morons they always have, corruption is a way of life like the South but they don't presume a sense of superiority or of history in the process like the South does. The South reveres history and that too is a part of the culture and in turn part of the problem.

Stripping a citizen's voting rights for peacefully protesting is abhorrent 
| Editorial USA TODAY Network Tennessee editors

This editorial reflects the views of the top editors of the USA TODAY Network Tennessee.

The Tennessee General Assembly passed a heavy-handed anti-protest bill on Aug. 12 during its three-day special session, aimed at demonstrators who camped out in an area in front of the state Capitol. After the vote, the demonstrators peacefully picked up their tents and left.

The next day, the Legislature sent the measure to Gov. Bill Lee for his signature. He promised to sign it.

Lee's declarations on social media last week that Tennessee would oppose lawlessness contrast to the mostly peaceful demonstration that ensued for more than two months.

Yes, there were incidents of protesters blocking legislators' cars and handcuffing themselves to a Capitol railing. But there are already laws to address these acts of civil disobedience.

There also were incidents of over-policing, including one in which a state trooper was accused of stripping the mask off a protester. He was fired Friday.

The legislation makes camping on state property a felony. That would put people away in prison for up to six years and take away their voting rights, potentially for life — — for peacefully pitching a tent and exercising their First Amendment rights.

That's abhorrent.

Moreover, this bill and the rhetoric surrounding it contradict Lee's focus on criminal justice reform.

Whether Lee or most legislators agree with the protesters' positions on the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust and ending systemic racism is irrelevant.

They have an obligation to uphold and sustain democracy, even when exercising those rights is messy.

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